Seeing as it’s Christmas time for many people, I thought it a good idea to use it as an excuse to get out and try out a tiny silver Lumax movie camera lens. It was made by Bell & Howell, possibly in the 1950s, and screwed into the c-mount on their famous film movie cameras. The Lumax lens covers a 16mm frame, so it’s perfect for the Micro Four Thirds sensor in my Olympus OM-D EM5 digital camera. Lens specifics: 1 inch (25mm) focal length (making it the equivalent of 50mm on the M43 sensor due to it being half the size of a 35mm sensor), and a relatively fast maximum aperture of 1.9

Here are some Lumax made photos from my time out looking at Christmas lights in the suburbs:
Snowman - Lumax lens on Olympus EM5

Snowman – Lumax lens on Olympus EM5

The Lumax isn’t multi-coated and exhibits glow around strong light sources. The out of focus areas are quite interesting, and I suspect that the bokeh is of the swirly type prized by many looking for character lenses. It’s certainly not as pronounced as the vertigo inducing swirly bokeh on a lens like the Cooke Kinicand nowhere near as expensive – but there’s certainly a similar character. The elliptical shape of the highlights towards the edges reminds me of the so-called cat-eye bokeh of the Helios 44 lens, and is likely a result of optical vignetting. If you look closely, you can see that the out of focus highlights follow a distinct pattern of distortion, suggestive of swirly bokeh.

Christmas Star - Bell & Howell Lumax

Christmas Star – Bell & Howell Lumax

Pink Highlights - Lumax 1 inch lens

Pink Highlights – Lumax 1 inch lens – processed with DXO Optics 10

The decorated Gum Tree

The decorated Gum Tree

I was able to make these photos at an ISO of 1600, which the Olympus EM5 does quite admirably. Noise is well controlled, and the character of the lens is on display. The above is my favourite photo of the night. I could have increased the shutter speed by 1 stop to bring out more detail in the hanging lights, but I like the way they glow, and also the blue ambient light bathing the native Gum trees.

I’ll certainly be trying out this lens some more.

 

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